When analyzing a map you must look at the TITLE then the key!

Map: Regions of the earth displayed on a flat surface.

Globe: A scale model of the earth that shows the oceans and major landforms proportional to each other. It is a (three-dimensional) sphere.

Hemisphere: The earth is divided up into halves or hemispheres using the Equator and Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian divides the earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The EQUATOR divides the earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

  • You must be able to tell in which hemispheres the continents are located.

Continents: There are 7 continents which are large landmasses on the earth: Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

  • You must be able to recognize the shape of the continents and explain where they are located.

Oceans: There are 5 Oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian and Southern.

  • You must know where the oceans are located and which continents they border.

Compass Rose: is a design on a map that shows directions always pointing to the magnetic North or "True" North. It shows:

Cardinal Directions: north, south, east, west

Intermediate Directions: northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest

Key/legend- an area on the map that displays the symbols that are used on the map and their meaning. Example: a star with a circle may mean capital of a city. Never assume, always look at the KEY!!!!

Scale Bar: A scale bar helps you find the distance between 2 places on a map. Most scale bars show the distance in km or miles depending on the 'scale' of the map. For example: The scale bar may show that 1 inch represents or equals 100 miles.




Physical maps show the earth's landforms and bodies of water, elevation and relief. The maps use lines, shading, tints, symbols, and different colors to show elevation and distinguish the mountains from the lowlands (relief and landforms)


Elevation- distance above sea level, often shown in feet or meters. Often in color or shading.


Landforms- physical features of the land often (how the land is shaped). Examples of Landforms- plateaus, basins, plains, mountains, hills, canyons, volcanoes.


Political maps show boundaries that divide one political region from another, such as townships, counties, cities, and states. Some maps emphasize the boundaries by printing the areas of each political division in different colors. For example, world maps usually show each country in a different color. Maps display these regions using labels, symbols and boundary lines. Color has no meaning but is often used to distinguish one area from another.


Thematic/special purpose map- maps with a focus on one theme or subject. These maps include, but are not limited to, cultural regions such as religion and language as well as population maps, road maps, climate and land use maps.


Land Cover maps-These maps display the main material on a certain area of land such as vegetation, glacier ice or desert.


Vegetation- plant life, such as: rain forests, wetlands, grassland, savannahs, prairies, evergreen forests, broadleaf.


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